Where to begin?
This book is truly a coffeetable book; at over 13 inches in height, it won't fit on any of my book shelves (and I own Peterson's "Cooking", which does.)
Literally the first half of the book (128 out of 256 pages) consists of photographs of food, photographs of Gordon Ramsay, photographs of Gordon Ramsay touching food and quotes by and about Gordon Ramsay. Well, the book *is* named "Three Star Chef", not "Three Star Food".
The second half of the book consists of 50 recipes: 16 appetizers, 17 entrees and 17 desserts, followed by a section called "Basics" which describes the procedures for making assorted stocks, sauces, purees, etc.
Another reviewer of this book asserted that it is not for the novice cook. This is something of an understatement. Let me give you a sense of what is involved in the production of what I consider one of the most approachable of the entrees, the roasted filet of beef with a truffle and root vegetable infusion:
This dish is composed from five elements: braised shank of beef, a clarified stock (made from the beef shank), vegetable garnish, beef filet, and a truffle and root vegetable infusion. The braising of the beef shank takes several hours, after which the meat is shredded and flattened into very thin wafers which are refrigerated overnight. The stock from the braise is then reduced and clarified. The vegetable garnish is simply blanched. The beef filet is pan-seared then oven-roasted. The truffle and root vegetable infusion is created by simmering the vegetables in the clarified stock and straining. The braised beef wafer (warmed to room temperature), the vegetable garnish, the beef filet and the infusion are then plated and served.
None of the ingredients in the dish are particularly hard to find if you live in or near a decent-sized city (or are willing to mail-order truffles.) None of the techniques described would strain the abilities of the experienced home cook. The directions provided are clear and unambiguous (there are exceptions in other recipes: tomato petals are what, precisely?) The recipes have been sized for a small group (4-6 servings in this example.) I think the dish described here is still a bit daunting unless you happen to have a sous chef or two hanging around.
This motif, the assembly of several complex elements into a highly refined dish, permeates every recipe in the book, making the appetizers and the desserts even more daunting than the entrees for the solo cook. The idea of such a cook attempting to make an appetizer, an entree and a dessert from this book for the same meal strains the imagination. If you are capable of accomplishing that, even spread over a couple of days, then I salute you.
The four-star rating resulted from the deduction of two stars for all of the fluff at the front of the book and the return of a star for the "Basics" section.
If you're looking for a cookbook of simple recipes, this is not the book for you. If you're interested in finding out how one of the world's best chefs designs a dish, it might be.